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I would guess there were about 25-30 people who went on the Tree Walk last evening.  We stopped along the path to talk about 16 specific trees, but mentioned many others as well as having our questions answered by Alex and Doug from the First Hill Improvement Association.  We saw different varieties of Oak trees (Red, Scarlet, English, Pin) as well as Littleleaf Lindens, Elms, Katsura, Japanese Hornbeam, London Plane, California and Deodar Cedar.Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 11.11.36 AM

We learned about the benefits of having trees along our sidewalks.  Check out this web-site to get a better idea of how trees work for us in our cities.

In Seattle, our Department of Transportation Forestry division is tasked with caring for the Urban Forestry, along with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, AND the residents who bear responsibility for trees in their location.

First Hill has a tree canopy coverage of 36% which is the second highest in the city.  This is encouraged further by Seattle Dept. of Public Utilities through a program known as “Seattle reLeaf”.  This group provides free trees for planting in the public right-of-way, allowing folks to own and care for their own canopy!

Anyway, trees are a big part of our lives, offering all kinds of benefits.  Treat them gently!

This morning I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to do some Geocaching for plants in our gardens? IMG_6752 I tried that in New Hampshire before we came here.  Actually, it was pretty unsuccessful.  I searched for a full day on a covered bridge looking for one of those danged caches!  I never did find it!  So, it would have to be pretty simple.  BUT, Geocaching also requires that you have a GPS.  That might be a bit tricky here as a lot of folks have some difficulties using their cell phones…a GPS would present some (even) more rather unique issues!!!

So I tried “googling” Geocaching horticultural stuff.  Hmmm…  Not so successful (kind of like looking for a geocache on a covered bridge!)IMG_6779  BUT, one of the Q&A sites suggested using a Scavenger Hunt idea instead (in reaction to a query from a parent looking for a geocaching “thing” for a birthday party).  Well, THAT sounds like a practical solution for us!  Maybe I could set up a Scavenger hunt, for plants or sculptures (Kappa?)in our gardens.

That would be a way for us to begin to learn about plants and trees, and even sculptures.  I’m going to put my “thinking cap” on and see what kind of ideas I come up with.  Maybe some of you might make comments below about either how to do it, or items we might list.  We could even think of some kind of “reward” for finding the proper “target”!

What do you think???

Last night at Sunny Monday (our big Happy Hour on the D Level Garden on Sunny Monday evenings) there was much ado about our Kappa!IMG_6767

Is he beautiful?  Definitely NOT!  Is he hard to find?  ABSOLUTELY!  Do we all love him?  Ummm…not so much!

In a discussion with Bill S. I learned a bit more (aside from the fact that Bill agrees he’s pretty ugly).  Our Kappa should not be “reclining”!  Bill tried to straighten him up unsuccessfully.  I went down this morning with the intention of standing him up and remarkably, succeeded.

Then, it’s about his “hat”.  It looks very much like a turtle shell.  Yesterday I had looked up “Kappa” in Wikipedia and other sources, and it never mentions a “hat”.  But, it does say that he should have a bowl on top of his head.

So, last night Bill and I lifted that hat, and LO AND BEHOLD, there was a “bowl” on his head.  This morning I removed the turtle shell and thought I’d put it on top of the little turtle in my garden…but it’s much too big.  I hope someone out there might know where this shell belongs, because it is misplaced on the Kappa!IMG_6779

Here is one of the sites that did a good job of explaining the old Japanese folk-story, or legend. 

I hope you’ll go to the site and find out a bit more about our Kappa.  If we’re going to keep him in the garden, we should at least know a bit about him!

Oh, by the way, Bill S. says there’s another one somewhere in the gardens…even larger.  So if you see me peeking around in the bushes, you’ll know what I’m looking for!

 

Oh, my!  We have a KAPPA on the Level D Garden Terrace!IMG_6762

There are a number of gardeners (and others) who have been totally flummoxed by this rather macabre looking statue buried in the shrubbery by the garage on the D Level Garden Terrace.  Who is he and where did he come from?  It appeared to be a great mystery.

When we were gearing up for the “June in Our Gardens” event, I had approached the Art Committee for some light to be shed on the matter.  They had nary a clue where it came from, if it belonged to anyone, or in fact if there was ANY history behind him (it?).  So, we ignored the whole subject.

Then during our Horizon House picnic, I happened (with TOTAL coincidence) to be seated at the table RIGHT next to this Kappa.  Since he was hard to ignore, quite the conversation evolved concerning his existence.  He was deemed “frightful”; “scary”; “nasty” and just a puzzle for this environment.

Since we had no “history” on this guy, it was decided to “do away with him”. IMG_6761 And then, out of the woodwork, an article appeared this week in our Alert (calendar) giving a whole history and explanation about our Kappa!  Fortunately, the dastardly deed had not yet been accomplished, and he still resides in the shrubbery.  (Thanks Stu!)

Now let me tell you, it appears this fellow casts spells!  He likes cucumbers!  He drowns people!  We have no cucumbers in our gardens, and we have no water allowing for drownings, however…over the last few weeks two of our gardeners have been incapacitated with broken bones!!!!  Oh, oh!  We need some council on this matter.  WHAT TO DO?  What do YOU think?

 

I took a walk around the gardens today.  IMG_6752It was HOT out there!  The plants are feeling the heat as well.  Fortunately, most of the gardens are being watered by drip and spray, set up by our wonderful landscaper.  However, it is SO dry and hot, that the plants will enjoy any extra beverage we can supply.  (Just like us!)


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There are a few things I noticed that would probably help our gardens survive and look better.

  • Quite a few gardeners are forgetting to “dead-head” their flowers.  It is important to do that.  A plant is always trying to generate more of itself.  If it’s neglected, it thinks it’s out in the wild somewhere, and will try to generate seeds so when the plant dies, it will be propagated.  The flower is where the seeds are formed.  So, get rid of dead flowers.  Not only do they look unsightly, they will ultimately weaken the plant.  (Having said that, if you really want to get seeds leave them alone.  But, it won’t be pretty!)
  • I noticed in a number of beds, tall plants are planted in the front, hiding the little guys.  If you want to see those little flowers, put the tall plants in the back of the bed, or if you have  center, free-standing bed, put the tall ones in the center.  Smaller plants should always be planted in the front.
  • Many of the tall plants are not staked.  As they grow taller, they become vulnerable to tipping.  All they need is a stiff breeze, and “bang” those tall stems bend, leaving the plant looking pretty sad, and the garden unkempt.
  • If you do water, remember to water DEEPLY.  The roots should be heading downward, where it’s cool, rather than up, toward the hot, dry surface.IMG_6755
  • There are many lily’s that are either still gorgeous, or some having gone by.  In all cases, should you pick them, be VERY careful of those rust colored stamens.  If they brush against your clothing…you’ll be very unhappy because they stain, and you’ll never get that stain out!  It will not hurt their looks at all if you carefully just snip those rust colored stamens off.

When we lived in New Hampshire, my garden was pretty large.  Actually, I had quite a few small gardens within our acre and a half lot, so when I was going to take a real walk, and check ALL the gardens, I’d tell Joel I was going to “check the fences”.  Then he knew not to expect to see me again for at least an hour!  I wasn’t going to work in the garden.   I was just going to LOOK.  I wore my gardening gloves and carried my pruners.  I was always happy for the gloves, and even happier for the pruners, which I used OFTEN!

When we moved to Horizon House, I no longer had a garden.  However, I soon became the Chair of the Garden Committee.  Horizon House has about 40 raised garden beds available for residents to tend.  It took me awhile to sign up for one of them, but I finally took pity on a bed that was root bound by a Japanese Maple, nothing could grow there.IMG_6654  I placed some pots and planted mostly succulents, so I wasn’t bound by time and energy, neither of which I now have in any quantity!

So, what does that have to do with “checking the fences”?  Let me explain.  Those 40 aforementioned gardens are arrayed over three garden terraces, on three different levels in the West Wing of Horizon House.  Levels C, D and the Secret Garden, which can be found on the E level…with a little journey through the garage (which is why it’s called the “Secret” Garden).  Some people are not even aware of it’s existence!

 

“Checking the fences” at Horizon House means I visit each of those levels and see how the gardens are faring.  It is always a gentle surprise, and instead of pruning…I take pictures, which I post here or on the Horizon House web-site.  The gardeners always do a wonderful job with their gardens, and I love visiting them.

Again, when I tell Joel that I’m going to “check the fences”, he knows exactly what I mean. There are “fences” in Washington as well as in New Hampshire, even if there are no barriers in either place.  I have posted pictures of my journey this week, and hope you enjoy them.

I’ve been sick.  The last month and a half I’ve been definitely flying “half-staff”!  And of course, it coincided with “June in our Gardens” here at Horizon House.  Fortunately all the activities had been set up,  It was supposed to be time to sit back and enjoy.  Unfortunately, I was so miserable, I only got to about half of planned events.  That’s what pneumonia does to you, I guess.  I’m still struggling, but every little step toward health gives me hope that this too shall pass!

My normal weekly activities usually take me on, what I call, “checking the fences”, when I travel to all three garden levels to see how everything is growing, if there are things that need attention, or mysteries I can perhaps help the gardeners solve .  I haven’t been able to do that.  The last week I have gotten to my own little succulent garden, but I can’t do much except fill the little birdbath.  I got my husband to accompany me once, and he helped me schlep the hose over to give everything a good soak.  What would I do without him???  Anyway, even the thought of dealing with a blog has not enamored me, or “called out” to me.

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NPR-(Woitek gurak/flickr)

This morning, however, I saw an article on my NPR page about Madrid’s (Spain) “Wall Gardens”.  They are vertical gardens that actually help with the soaring temperatures in the city.  How neat is that?

I don’t think it’s easy, by any means, but what a concept!  I loved it!

Doing this with vegetables seems to be a more common idea.  Here’s an article by the NC Extension Service.  Nebraska Extension Service also has an informational page concerning this concept.

Is this something we could think about doing in our own gardens?  I’ve been trying to think of a wall here at Horizon House that might be able to support something like that.  I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m not giving up on the idea!

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